This morning, while walking the dog at 4:30 a.m., a trio of old friends greeted me. Yes, it’s an odd hour for such meetings, but not when you consider that darkness is essential to these three. There, low in the east, was the Summer Triangle, making itself comfortable in March. The Three Celestial Wise Men, I call them. The ones who appear each summer night as Altair, Deneb, and Vega (you were expecting Mechior, Caspar, and Balthasar?).
It helped that this was the last 40-degree Fahrenheit morning before polar air returns to New England this weekend. And it certainly was a cheerful sight. I’d forgotten that the constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra appear as a trailer this early. Catch them by night in July and August, but preview them by the pre-dawn skies in March and April.
Life is fond of hiding surprises like that. You just have to look for them. Just like looking for inspiration. Or a poem. Or a break from bad news on the doorstep. Sooner or later, from the periphery of your eye, a sparkle of something nice in the darkness before your dawns.
I got eye-greedy after that. As the dog enjoyed long and leisurely sniffs of tree trunks, wind- fallen limbs, and every seventh grass blade, I took in the Big Dipper, its tail arcing toward Arcturus, the tiara we call Corona Borealis, and the pulsing red jewel known as Antares on the Scorpion’s back.
Is there anything more poetic than stars? From this remove, they seem ever peaceful and even immortal and beyond aging or ugliness. False, false and false, I realize, but perception is everything and, trust me, they are a lot more peaceful than planet Earth and will prove more immortal and pretty in the end, too.
From the mundane comes the sublime, writing-wise. Scraps of summer blowing across a dark March sky. Yeah. I like stuff like that. But then, it doesn’t take much to make my day. Even before it begins.